…and it makes me glad that i made these photographs. that i make photographs.
I like these simple sentences by Megan McIsaac. I like that she describes “making photographs” instead of taking them. It may seem like a hair-fine semantic argument, but I think it’s important, and it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately.
I started making portraits. I started first as a way to get over my reluctance to talk to people, to ask if they would sit for me a moment and share something of themselves. I also want to expand my photographic horizons. I began with an ad on CraigsList asking people to be part of a faces and stories project. People replied immediately and the project has been good so far. But I still haven’t made that leap to asking strangers, and part of the reason is the words I felt were necessary to begin the process: Can I take your photograph?
Again, we’re dealing with semantics here (full disclosure: I earned a BA in English with an emphasis on literary theory and popular culture analysis. I can totally be that guy.), but the very vocabulary of photography can be divisive. Sit for me, I’ll take your photograph. It’s no wonder the media is so rich for analysis by way of watcher and watched, aggressor and victim. Give and take.
I’m sure there will be many who would poo-poo such thoughts. Many who will argue that it is the results, not the means, that make a photograph great. That make a photographer who she is. I’m going to disagree. In any profession there must be conscious choices made as to the vocabulary of that profession. After all, even as photographers we use words first when working with a subject (see what I did there? It’s tough to loose myself from the photographic language even as I implore others to do so), and we use words to explain our photographs to those that ask.
I’m not sure how I’ll do it. “Can I make your photograph?” sounds too weird right now. It’s too new and doesn’t roll of the tongue. But I’ll get there eventually. In the mean time, suffice to say that I’m a photographer. I make photographs.